International Commerce: What to Consider When Selling Overseas

What are some of the key preparatory considerations you need to make to ensure your expansion is as successful and effective as possible?

International Commerce

‘Going global’ is a landmark moment in business, where an enterprise outgrows its domestic market and shows potential on an international stage. It is the next step for many aspiring entrepreneurs in the UK, as opportunities for growth dwindle on home soil.

But it is also a dangerous endeavour, a do-or-die moment especially when the pound is at an all-time low. What are some of the key preparatory considerations you need to make to ensure your expansion is as successful and effective as possible?

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Choosing Where to Operate

Your most important decisions are the first ones you make when considering an international expansion: namely, which countries and territories you are going to expand your offering into. This is a crucial, even existential question, as different countries will naturally display different qualities and opportunities according to a wide variety of variables.

Success on domestic soil does not guarantee success in a foreign market. Any decisions relating to geographical expansion need to be backed up with solid data, in the form of market and competitor research in each potential new territory. Not only will demographic splits differ considerably between nations, but so will consumer needs; does your product fill a gap in the market, or will you be risking intense competition?

Choosing Sales Channels

Once you have chosen your areas of expansion, you will also need to think more directly about the various channels you can use to market your product to consumers or businesses in those territories. As a basic but essential example of the research you need to undertake, consider the search habits of citizens in different regions of the world.

Google is naturally the most popular search engine in the West, as a vast majority of web users in America and Europe use it for their day-to-day. But countries beyond the Western sphere of influence use different search engines and providers altogether, with Baidu representing more than three-quarters of the search engine market share in China.

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With specific regard to search, this might have real implications for the weighting of your PPC campaign. On a wider level, it illustrates the importance of understanding the mechanisms of a new market before expanding into it.

Tax, Regulation, and Localised Laws

Speaking of which, many of the financial mechanisms that govern the movements of markets within certain jurisdictions are a result of localised law and regulation – not in the least with regard to domestic taxation. As a newly international business, you need to ensure that your processes and logistics are compatible and compliant with the laws of the jurisdictions into which you are expanding.

Collaboration with a global legal firm is often necessary to navigate the various legal pitfalls associated with opening a new commerce channel to another country. It can also give you a more concrete understanding of not only your legal obligations, but also your financial outcomes.